Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, an environmental crusader, has a lot of explaining to do.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has for years been selling buses that do not meet Tokyo's strict pollution regulations to bus operators outside the city wanting for a bargain.
In the past two years, the government has sold nearly 200 buses that do not meet nitrogen oxide emission guidelines. And the government is planning to sell another 170 buses that do not meet tough 2003 diesel regulations to local bus operators.
Tokyo's practice of selling its heavy-emission vehicles to poor local operations is likely to cause widespread criticism. Ishihara may face a public relations disaster.
'It is not that Tokyo is getting rid of something that should not be used in the countryside,' Ishihara explains. 'It is the decision of the rural operators which, given their financial situation and their concern for residents' convenience, asked us to sell the buses.'
But the sale of the buses should not continue unchecked, he said. 'I don't think money means everything. Sometimes we should sacrifice financial benefit for the sake of the cause.'